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Gender Studies

The study of gender as a fundamental category of social and cultural analysis.

Spotlight on Disability Studies

A group of activists, including Judy Heumann (center, with yellow stockings) protest for the enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, in April of 1977Introduction
Throughout history, communities of disabled, neurodiverse, crip, and sick people have been overlooked and oversimplified in academic conversations. Disability activism and political movements carved out a space for addressing ableism in research and academia; as a result, disability studies has emerged. Disability studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores disabled identities in the humanities and social sciences. For this spotlight on disability studies, we include neurodiverse, crip, and sick identities in our definition of disability. 

To read more about disability language and the use of "crip," enjoy this article by Dean Strauss: "Queer Crips: Reclaiming Language," and Brittany Wong's Huffington Post article "It's Perfectly OK to call a Disabled Person 'Disabled,' And Here's Why."

We also recommend the following resources that helped with this feature:

Resources for Further Exploration
A selection of articles, online compilations, and other resources relevant to disability studies

Next Steps
The following features also cover topics of disability studies:

Image Description: A group of activists, including Judy Heumann (center, with yellow stockings) protest for the enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, in April of 1977. Later that month, the protesters would occupy a federal building in San Francisco in protest in a sit-in that lasted more than 25 days. Photo by Wally McNamee / CORBIS / via Getty Images

Journals

Journal Articles

Study Resources

Spotlight on Queer Poetry & Poetics

Cover image for feature. Text reads "Queer Poetry and Poetics, an introduction"Poetry often touches the core of our complex and intersecting identities as human beings. From the outset of recorded history the identities embodied in poems are often those of marginalized groups. This is certainly true with regard to queer poets. From classical poets like Sappho to luminaries of literary modernism like Hart Crane to contemporary poets like Ocean Vuong, queer experience and desire is an undeniable presence in the poetry and poetics of the global canon. Here below is just a small sampling of poetry from queer poets from a variety of backgrounds and intersectionalities.

Resources for Further Exploration
A selection of articles, online compilations, and other resources relevant to queer poetry & poetics

Next Steps
If you'd like to engage more deeply with National Poetry Month, the IU Libraries Arts & Humanities department has put together a number of features and guides to showcase our holdings relevant to this month-long celebration of poetry. You'll find those, below:

Anthologies
Anthologies of poems by queer poets


Individual Collections
Works by queer poets exploring queerness, from across time

Monographs
Selection of texts from our catalog with an emphasis on queerness and poetry

Articles
Selection of scholarly articles from journals in our holdings

Podcasts
Episodes of podcasts featuring queer poets

Recitations
Audio readings of poems by queer poets

Interviews
Text and video interviews with queer poets

Online Collections
Queer poetry collections, available freely online

Spotlight on Consensual Non-monogamy

Image of three young black people embracing at the beachConsensual Non-monogamy
Consensual non-monogamy is an umbrella term used to describe any agreed-upon romantic/sexual relationship that falls outside of the exclusive, dyadic (two-person) structure of monogamy, including polyamory and open relationships. Though non-monogamous relationships have gained greater contemporary visibility, it has existed in many and various forms across history. This guide provides an introduction to both scholarly and popular resources for those wishing to learn more about consensual non-monogamy.

Getting Started

Selection of online archives and other resources, which can be used to find further information on this topic

Blogs


Podcasts

Spotlight on Black LGBTQ+ Poetry

Black LGBTQ+ poets write from the intersections of Black and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer identities and experiences. Black LGBTQ+ poets explore issues of gender expression and discrimination, love, sex, sexuality, desire, culture, race, and more through their creative work. Due to compounding oppressions, the history of Black LGBTQ+ poetry and poetics has not been given adequate attention by scholars or mainstream audiences. What follows is a list of poetry books by Black LGBTQ+ poets, anthologies of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) poets who are LGBTQ+, and scholarly articles on the topic, in celebration of Black History Month. We have also included a very brief introduction to African American poetry and recommendations for further reading on that subject.

 

Poet Danez Smith reading "Genesissy" for Button Poetry, 2015

 

Next Steps
As with many of these national commemorations, one month is never enough time to fully honor and celebrate the history and culture of marginalized communities, let alone heal the legacies (and ongoing reality) of harm they've experienced. We recognize that there is much more to be done, that racism and anti-blackness can't be eliminated simply through the creation of resource guides, and that the work of realizing justice won't soon be over. But nevertheless, we keep trying, contributing how we can and building upon the efforts of those who came before us, and we continue to learn from and with one another.

If you'd like to engage more deeply with Black History Month, the IU Libraries Arts & Humanities department has created a number of interrelated resources and features to provide more holistic coverage of this remembering. You'll find those, below:

And for all things Black culture, you can never go wrong with the resources, services, and collections of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library.

Open Access Resources with African American Poetry Features

Scholarly sources on Black Queer Poetics:

Lists of books, articles, and media related to Black Queer Studies:

A very brief introduction to the African American / Black Poetic Tradition
African American poetry predates the written word and has its roots in a rich oral tradition. shares sonic qualities with Black musical forms like gospel, jazz, blues, hip-hop, and rap, and includes a rich array of poetic sound devices: alliteration, rhyme, anaphora (the repetition of lines or fragments), to name a few. Black Poetry can be about any theme or subject, but the Black experience is often at the center of Black Poetry, which is informed by the distinctiveness of Black culture. Black Poets often unpack and critiques the systemic oppressions and individual discriminations that they, as Black Americans, have endured, like slavery, segregation, and police brutality. Notable writers and movements in Black Poetry are described in the
Power of Poetry series of blog posts from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Critics and supporters of the distinction between African American and American literature abound. The positions of each side are outlined in this wikipedia article on the subject. 

Books and essays on African American poetry

IU Resources

Open Access Resources with African American Poetry Features

 

Spotlight on Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQIA Peoples

This page provides suggested resources (books, video & film, articles & databases) relevant to Two-Spirit Identity and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) Indigenous Identity.

The term Two-Spirit (2S, 2Spirit, Two Spirit, Twospirited) was coined in 1990 at the Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering in Winnipeg. The term is a pan-Indian, umbrella term used by a number of Indigenous Native Americans to describe Native Peoples who fulfill traditional third-gender or variant-gender roles in their communities and cultures. The term is generally accepted but faces controversy from critics who consider it as reinforcing western notions of binary gender or attempting to erase terms that already exist in traditional communities for gender-variant members. 

Acceptance, treatment, status, and rights of LGBTQIA Indigenous peoples and Two-Spirit individuals have varied historically. Contemporary understandings of Two-Spirit identity and what it means to be Indigenous and LGBTQIA vary greatly from tribe to tribe. We hope the resources collected in these pages will help readers gain a nuanced understanding of Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA Indigenous Identity. 

In his talk, Nick Metcalf gives insight into his experiences being a two spirit, and explains why gender fluidity is necessary in today’s world.


About the Playlist
This mix features two-spirit and other Indigenous LGBTQIA and nonbinary/transgender artists from across Turtle Island, as well as other parts of the world. A work in progress, we welcome suggestions for artists from these groups for inclusion.

Note: To enjoy the playlist in full, click on the white Spotify icon in the upper-right corner of the playlist, and press the "like" (♡) button in the application to save.

To learn more about the artists and communities represented in this playlist, check out some of the resources we consulted:

Further Reading & Resources

Next Steps
If you'd like to learn more about this month-long celebration of Indigenous communities and identity, we've created a guide with list of resources, as well as a playlist featuring Indigenous musicians, on the Media Studies Research Guide. There is also an overview of Indigenous Philosophy on the Philosophy Research Guide. 

For more information about the Indigenous communities with ongoing and traditional ties to this land, and how to support Indigenous groups and movements, take a look at our Land Acknowledgment and Local Indigenous Resources guide.

Fiction


Poetry


Drama

Essays


Memoirs

Featured Videos

"In this series for News Talk Radio's Meeting Ground we take the journey of indigenous gender identity tracing gender diverse First Nations people (or Two-Spirit) through their lives pre contact and then after residential schools. We learn what that journey means for the future of Two-Spirit people on Turtle Island today." – Kelly Malone

 

"In this webinar, three indigenous community leaders discuss their work and how it benefits the communities in which they live. They focus on how their identity as Two Spirits has influenced their activism, art, scholarly work, and vision. The webinar is presented by Rep. Susan Allen, LaDonna BlueEye, and Isaiah Brokenleg, and moderated by Sharon M. Day." - SAMHSA


Documentaries


Feature Films


Short Films

  • Aviliaq:Entwined - Short film by Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, as part of the Embargo Project. In the 1950s, two Inuit women attempt to protect their relationship when pressure from their new colonial culture forces them to marry men.
  • "I Still Believe" - Short film by Raven Davis about love, hope and wonder
  • "It's Not Your Fault" - Short movie by Raven Davis about the violence of online comments made towards Indigenous people, specifically Indigenous Women, children and 2 Spirit people. Bringing attention to the negligence of online/social media outlets allowing hate speech in Canada.
  • "Mars-Womb-Man" - short film by James Diamond. Man from Venus (super 8, 4 min, 1998) meets Mars Womb-Man. She's an answer without a question and he a question without answer. A sustainable foreground emerges only when they forge paths. A motion portrait where opposites distract and the peripheral rule is born.
  • "Meskanahk (My Path)" - 'Meskanahk' is a video narrative of a young 'half-breed' man's journey off a Cree reserve. This video highlights the motivations that progressed his journey and the questions, regrets and fears raised on his path from childhood to adulthood. 'Meskanahk' chronicles the plight of this young man's fears of being in situations where he was always labeled as an: 'other', and how this had propelled him to run from situation to situation. In the end, when this young man stops running, he wonders if his parents hate him for having run away.
  • The Misadventures of Pussy Boy - series of animated shorts by Alec Butler, featuring Alick, a trans/2spirit/intersex teen, going on various misadventures
  • Thirza Cuthand - collection of short films by queer transgender Plains Cree artist TJ Cuthand
  • Two-Spirit & Queer (NFB) - Collection of films by Indigenous two-spirit and queer filmmakers, from the National Film Board of Canada

Other Online Videos

  • 21st International Two Spirit Gathering Powwow - footage is of the Grand Entry of the 21 International Two-Spirit Gathering held at Aspen Lodge in Estes Park Colorado, for the Two-Spirit Society of Denver
  • As They Are: Two-Spirit People in the Modern World - 20 minute film by Mike Garrido and Tarek Tohme featuring Elton Naswood (Navajo), Ben Lucero Wolf (Kiowa), and Richard Eric Dearmore (Paiute)
  • C2C: Two Spirit and Queer People of Colour Conference - C2C: Two Spirit & Queer People of Colour Call to Conversation with LGBT & Allies" met from Friday, October 20 to Sunday, October 22, 2017 at The University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba. C2C was hosted by the University of Winnipeg (UW) in partnership with Two-Spirit People of Manitoba and QTPOC Winnipeg
  • The Candy Show - The Candy Show is a National variety TV series featuring the Aboriginal Comedian Candy Palmater and her music guest and a Performing artist on each episode.
  • Ma-Nee Chacaby talks about Two Spirit identities - Author and Indigenous elder Ma-Nee Chacaby talks about Two Spirit identities
  • Our Families: LGBT / Two Spirit Native American Stories - We all go through some of the same struggles: we struggle to access healthy food, quality education, and affordable healthcare. These struggles affect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) families of color in very unique ways. This Our Families video features Native LGBT/Two Spirit families sharing their personal stories of struggle, acceptance, and family.
  • Queer Profiles: Alec Butler (Cathexis LGBTQ Oral History) - In this fascinating interview, award-winning filmmaker, playwright and 2spirit/trans/intersex activist Alec Butler shares his story of growing up queer in Cape Breton and being drawn to art as a way of getting through decades of questioning his identity and gender.
  • Two Spirit  (Injunuity) - Two Spirit: A person of First Nations or Native American descent possessing both a male and female spirit. An umbrella term used to describe the fluidity of First Nations/Native American gender identity and sexuality with respect to traditional tribal roles. Featuring: Mica Valdez (Mexica), Nazbah Tom (Navajo/Diné), Arlando Teller (Navajo/Diné), Charlie Ballard (Anishinaabe, Sac & fox), Esther Lucero (Navajo/Diné).
  • Two Spirit People - An overview of historical and contemporary Native American concepts of gender, sexuality and sexual orientation. This documentary explores the berdache tradition in Native American culture, in which individuals who embody feminine and masculine qualities act as a conduit between the physical and spiritual world, and because of this are placed in positions of power within the community.

Streaming Resources

Academic Texts


Selected Scholarly Articles

Suggested Keywords for database searches relating to Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous* identity: 
*while there is some overlap and commonalities in understandings of gender and sexuality across groups, when doing research relevant to Indigenous identities, it is always best practice to search using the names of individual tribes, nations, and communities when possible

Indigenous

Aboriginal

Native

First Nations

Race

POC (people of color)

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color)

 

 

Queer

Gay

Lesbian

Bisexual

Transgender

Identity

Sexuality

Sexual Orientation

Two-spirit (sometimes "two spirit", "two spirited" or "two-spirited")

LGBT

LGBTQ

LGBTQ2S

Gender Studies

Gender

Colonial(ism)

Decolonial(ism)

Decolonizing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Relevant Databases

Online Resources
Selection of resources freely available online

Academic Style & Gender-Inclusive Writing

A white person holds up a whiteboard with the words "hello my pronouns are" and two blanks with a slash so one could write them in. The words are written in rainbow colors.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


Academic style guides agree: honoring and using a person’s correct personal pronoun is a matter of respect, and it's good style

All three major Academic Style Guides (APA, the Chicago Manual of Style, and MLA) agree that a person’s correct personal pronouns (they, he, she, etc.) should be respected and used at all times in formal and academic writing. It is not possible to infer a person’s pronouns just by looking at them. To determine the pronouns of someone you are writing about, refer to their biography, or if possible, ask them what personal pronouns they use. If their personal pronouns are unknown or cannot be determined, using singular “they” may be the solution, if you are writing in APA or MLA. For those using Chicago, the guide recommends rewriting the text in a way that does not require using personal pronouns (Chicago, 5.255). Always take care in your writing to use the correct personal pronouns. Never assume a person’s pronouns when writing about them.

More about personal pronouns and how to use them

In English, personal pronouns are gendered. Historically, English offers only three personal pronouns: masculine (he), feminine (she), and the un-gendered “it” (which is widely seen as rude or disrespectful to use when referring to a person). These few personal pronouns do not adequately express the variety of gender expressions that have been present throughout history. Grammar is not static, but changes over time, adapting to, reflecting and perpetuating biases and social constructs present in the culture. Many people have been excluded by this rigid and artificial binary representation of gender codified in the English language and have had to find or create alternatives to identify themselves in speech and writing.

Below is a chart that lists some of the most commonly used personal pronouns and gives examples for how to use them.

This pronoun chart is directly based off of one created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Gender & Sexuality Campus Center.
  Nominative (subject) Objective (object) Possessive determiner Possessive pronoun Reflexive
He He laughed I called him His dog barks That is his He likes himself
She

She laughed

I called her Her dog barks That is hers She likes herself
They They laughed I called them Their dog barks That is theirs They like themself
Per Per laughed I called per Per dog barks That is pers Per likes perself

Ze/Hir

(Zee/Hear)

Ze laughed I called hir Hir dog barks That is hirs Ze likes hirself

 

Academic Style Guides on the importance of achieving gender-neutral writing

Academic style guides agree on the importance of achieving gender-neutral writing, and the problem of using “he” as a universal pronoun. For a time, academic style guides suggested the use of “he or she” or alternating between “he” or “she” in writing. This construction is now acknowledged as being not only clunky and awkward, but exclusionary because to use “he or she” suggests a rigid gender binary, excluding all persons whose gender identities are outside of that binary. Luckily, singular “they,” in use since the 14th century in informal and spoken speech, has started to gain traction as a gender-inclusive pronoun to refer to a person of unknown gender in formal and academic writing. More on the history of singular “they” can be found at the Oxford English Dictionary’s website and Historians.org.

In 2021 Academic Style Guides are divided on the use of singular “they” as a gender-neutral unknown referent

Academic Style Guides adapt slowly to changes in grammar, and like grammar, are socially constructed texts that are constantly in flux. To understand Academic Style Guides’ current and past positions on singular “they” as a gender-neutral unknown referent, it is important to keep in mind that Academic Style Guides do not create grammatical rules. Rather, they establish formal guidelines that follow spoken and grammatical conventions which are set by informal writing and speech. Academic Style Guides are often slow to adopt conventions they might see as temporary. Despite the long history of singular “they” in this usage, which mirrors the grammatical evolution of singular “you,” some style guides have waffled on sanctioning its use.  

As of 2021, all three major guides (APA, MLA, and Chicago) acknowledge the ubiquity of singular “they” for use with an unknown referent in informal writing and speech. However, only one of the three guides, the 7th Edition of APA’s Style Guide, fully endorses the use of singular “they” as “a generic third-person singular pronoun to refer to a person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant to the context of usage” (APA, 120). MLA, which leaves grammar largely up to the discretion of the author, neither endorses nor prohibits the use of singular “they” in this sense. As a result, it is acceptable in MLA Style. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) has a particularly complicated history with singular “they” as a gender-neutral unknown referent. In the 1993 edition, it endorsed “they/their” in this sense (Chicago, 13th Ed. 2.98). However, this was removed from subsequent editions. Though CMOS acknowledges the ubiquity of this usage, it continues to prohibit its use and instead recommends rewriting the sentence in some way that eliminates the need for a pronoun. For more on the history of singular “they” and the Chicago Manual of Style, take a look at this 2017 article written by Cai Fischietto on IU Libraries’ website.

Metaphysics of Gender

While in common parlance the word gender often serves as a kid-friendly synonym for sex, in feminist and academic discussions, the two are often seen as conceptually distinct. A rough and hasty description of the sex-gender distinction might say that sex is a biological given, gender is a social construction, and never the twain shall meet. However, even if we grant the sex-gender distinction (and a number of feminists do reject it for a variety of reasons), it remains far from obvious what, precisely, gender is, what it means for gender to be socially constructed, or what we should make of gender anyway.

Fortunately, feminists and philosophers have recently taken interest in the metaphysics of gender. This LibGuide serves as a selective bibliography on some of the scholarly work being done in this fascinating and important field of inquiry. A companion subject post on this topic is forthcoming.

Getting Started
For introductory material on the philosophy of gender and feminist philosophy, check out these articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which also provides extensive bibliographies of their own that are worth exploring:

Additionally, the following bibliography identifies sources (within and without philosophy) on matters pertaining to trans genders, the lived experiences of transfolk, and intersectionality, and should prove a valuable resource for those interested in the metaphysics of gender:

Next Steps
If you'd like to explore this topic further, our library subject research portals are also a good place to get started; among other things, they provide tailored, subject-based lists of research resources:

Sources on the nature of social construction, considered as such or with particular respect to gender:

  • Diaz‐Leon, Esa. "What is Social Construction?" European Journal of Philosophy 23, no. 4 (2015): 1137-52. arrow-link
  • Hacking, Ian. The Social Construction of What? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. arrow-link
  • Haslanger, Sally. "Ontology and Social Construction." Philosophical Topics 23, no. 2 (1995): 95-125. arrow-link
  • Mallon, Ron. "Naturalistic Approaches to Social Construction." In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward  N. Zalta. 2013. arrow-link
  • Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana. "The Social Construction of Human Kinds." Hypatia 28, no. 4 (2013): 716-32. arrow-link
  • Sveinsdóttir, Ásta. "Social Construction." Philosophy Compass 10, no. 12 (2015): 884-92. arrow-link

Sources on the genealogy of gender:

  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. London, UK: Routledge, 1999. arrow-link
  • Germon, Jennifer. Gender: A Genealogy of an Idea. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. arrow-link
  • Repo, Jemima. The Biopolitics of Gender. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016. arrow-link

Sources on the metaphysics of gender:

  • Alcoff, Linda. Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. arrow-link
  • Bach, Theodore. "Gender Is a Natural Kind with a Historical Essence." Ethics 122, no. 2 (2012): 231-72. arrow-link
  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. London, UK: Routledge, 1999. arrow-link
  • Diaz-Leon, Esa. "'Woman' as a Politically Significant Term: A Solution to the Puzzle." Hypatia 31, no. 2 (2016): 245-58. arrow-link
  • Haslanger, Sally. "Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them to Be?" Noûs 34, no. 1 (2000): 31-55. arrow-link
  • Haslanger, Sally. Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. arrow-link
  • Jenkins, Katharine. "Amelioration and Inclusion: Gender Identity and the Concept of Woman." Ethics 126, no. 2 (2016): 394-421. arrow-link
  • Overall, Christine. "Sex/Gender Transitions and Life-Changing Aspirations." In You've Changed: Sex Reassignment and Personal Identity, edited by Laurie Shrage, 11-27. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2009. arrow-link
  • Power, Nicholas, Raja Halwani, and Alan Soble, eds. Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings. 6th ed. New York, NY: Rowan & Littlefield, 2012. arrow-link
    • See, for example:
      • Ch. 14: Talia Bettcher, “Trans Women and the Meaning of 'Women'", 233-50.
      • Ch. 15: Christine Overall, “Trans Persons, Cisgender Persons, and Gender Identities”, 251-67.
  • Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana. "The Social Construction of Human Kinds." Hypatia 28, no. 4 (2013): 716-32. arrow-link
  • Witt, Charlotte. The Metaphysics of Gender. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. arrow-link
  • Witt, Charlotte, ed. Feminist Metaphysics. New York, NY: Springer, 2010. arrow-link
    • See, for example:
      • Ch. 3: Natalie Stoljar, “Different Women. Gender and the Realism-Nominalism Debate”, 27-46.
      • Ch. 5: Mari Mikkola, “Ontological Commitments, Sex and Gender”, 67-83.

Sources on feminist metaphysics and the metaphysics of gender vis-à-vis "mainstream" metaphysics:

  • Barnes, Elizabeth. "Going Beyond the Fundamental: Feminism in Contemporary Metaphysics." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 3, no. 114 (2014): 335–51. arrow-link
  • Mikkola, Mari. "Feminist Metaphysics and Philosophical Methodology." Philosophy Compass 11, no. 11 (2016): 661-70. arrow-link
  • Mikkola, Mari. "On the apparent antagonism between feminist and mainstream metaphysics." Philosophical Studies (2016): 1-14. arrow-link
  • Schaffer, Jonathan. "Social Construction as Grounding; or, Fundamentality for Feminists, a Reply to Barnes and Mikkola." Philosophical Studies (2016): 1-17. arrow-link
  • Sider, Theodore. "Substantivity in Feminist Metaphysics." Philosophical Studies (2016): 1-12. arrow-link